Update (12:30 p.m. ET): Thurmond tested positive for marijuana, according to Dave Mahler of KJR radio in Seattle.
The Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" secondary may look a lot less intimidating for the next month or so. Already that group is without an injured Brandon Browner, and now fellow cornerback Walter Thurmond is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, Ian Rapoport reported on the NFL Gameday Morning Sunday.
According to Rapoport, Thurmond has appealed that penalty (which is not PED-related), but he will drop that appeal early this week. The Seahawks are on their bye in Week 12.
After that, though, the schedule cranks up, starting with a Week 13 Monday night showdown against the Saints. New Orleans (9-2) currently stands as the biggest obstacle between Seattle (10-1) and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks hold a 3.5-game lead in the NFC West; they travel to San Francisco in Week 14.
Thurmond's impending suspension is just the latest in a long line of hits the team has taken under the league's substance-abuse policy. Bruce Irvin sat out the first four games on 2013, while Browner and Richard Sherman each was hit with a four-game suspension in 2012 on account of Adderall use (Sherman's punishment was overturned on appeal). Offensive lineman Allen Barbre and CB Winston Guy also had to deal with four-game bans last season, while ex-Seahawk lineman John Moffitt missed a quarter of the 2011 campaign.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said back during training camp that he's "definitely noticed" the recent string of problems for the Seahawks.
"It has no place in an athlete's body. Play by the rules," Harbaugh said. "You always want to be above reproach, especially when you're good, because you don't want people to come back and say, 'They're winning because they're cheating.' That's always going to be a knee-jerk reaction in my experience, ever since I was a little kid.
We want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules. Because if you don't, if you cheat to win, then you've already lost, according to (former Michigan coach) Bo Schembechler. And Bo Schembechler is about next to the word of God as you can get in my mind. It's not the word of God, but it's close." Seattle's depth in the defensive backfield certainly will be tested by the latest misstep. Thurmond's role figured to increase with Browner shelved, but the extra responsibilities now will fall to Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell. That duo has combined to play 213 snaps this season, per Pro Football Focus, less than half of the 462 snaps Browner and Thurmond have seen.